Nagorno-Karabakh’s Armenian-backed army said late on Wednesday that it has captured an Azerbaijani soldier while thwarting a military incursion attempted by Azerbaijan.
The Defense Army claimed that its forces took “preemptive actions” to stop an Azerbaijani commando raid on their positions near the northern Karabakh village of Talish earlier in the day. One of the Azerbaijani servicemen was taken prisoner as a result, it said in a statement.
The prisoner was identified was Elnur Huseynzade. He was born in 1995, according to the statement.
The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry denied, however, launching any incursions at this and other sections of “the line of contact” around Karabakh. In a statement cited by Azerbaijani news agencies, it confirmed that Huseynzade served in the Azerbaijani army but claimed that he was demobilized “some time ago” because of repeated violations of “military discipline” and failure to report for duty.
However, Huseynzade’s mother told the Azerbaijani news service Istipress.com on Thursday that he remained an active duty serviceman up until his capture. She said her son became a contract soldier after completing a two-year compulsory military service in 2015.
A Karabakh Armenian army spokesman, Senor Hasratian, shrugged off Baku's denials on Thursday, saying that the Azerbaijani military is “ready to abandon its soldier.” Hasratian insisted that Huseynzade was armed and wore an Azerbaijani army uniform when he was captured in no-man’s land near Talish.
The village was severely damaged by Azerbaijani shelling during four-day hostilities around Karabakh in April 2016. Davit Babayan, a senior official in Sepanakert, said that the botched Azerbaijani incursion was aimed at hampering the ongoing reconstruction of local houses.
“They want to distract us from the large-scale work done there and show that the situation is still volatile,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
Babayan would not say whether Huseynzade will be freed and repatriated anytime soon. “It’s too early to talk about that,” he said.
“[Huzeynzade’s] security and health is not in danger,” added the Karabakh official. “His parents and relatives should not worry.”
The Defense Ministry in Baku also reported that another Azerbaijani soldier, Rauf Isayev, was shot and wounded by Armenian forces on Wednesday. It did not specify where the shooting occurred.
The Karabakh army claimed to have “inflicted losses” on the Azerbaijani side during the Talish incident.